Last week I only managed to accomplish about half of my weekly list, but considering that the week began with a broken toilet seat, ended with a funeral, and had a tornado in the middle, I’m fairly impressed with myself for getting that much done.
Seriously, y’all, what a week. I really needed the whole weekend to recover from it, but we had all that tornado debris to deal with, plus the lawn was overdue to be mowed. I had wanted to get that all done on Saturday, but it rained that morning so we decided to give it another day for everything to dry, so at least I got to spend some time vegging on Saturday, and also to finally touch up my henna job.
So yesterday we got out there and piled up most of the fallen limbs, and I got the front yard mowed. But first I made the colossally dumb decision to try and move an entire downed tree out of the way all by myself, and ended up smashing my right middle finger between the tree and the metal flower bed border. It didn’t break, thankfully, but it scraped off the entire top layer of skin, left a deep cut on my knuckle, and now what skin is left on top of my finger is a lovely shade of dark purple. I also ended up with a nasty bruise on my knee from banging it into the sharp end of a broken limb, and every muscle in my body feels like I put it through a week of boot camp. Even so, they’re predicting more rain (and possibly storms) for later this week, so I’ve got to get back out there this afternoon and finish things up.
When I wasn’t busy abusing myself with storm debris, though, I managed to crochet this colorful pair of springtime wrist warmers and this bunting necklace:
Moving on to this week’s bullet list: it’s a pretty long list, what with adding the unfinished half of last week’s list to everything I’d hoped to accomplish this week, so I’ll just give you the highlights. I’m still working on two client critiques, and I still need to launch my Publishing School blog, as well as write two more posts for this blog for the week. I also need to place an ad for Midnight Snacks and my mailing list in Dominion of the Damned because that’s going on sale next week. I’ve got several inquiries and quote requests on Fiverr that I need to respond to today, and after lunch I need to finish cleaning up and mow the back yard. And I still need to finish outlining Ghost of a Chance so I can get back to writing it.
I also want to get my spring cleaning done this week. And it’s going to (hopefully) be a short week, because I’m planning to give myself a four-day weekend for Easter and my birthday. The plan is to take off Good Friday and spend it and Saturday cleaning, so that I can kick off my 42nd year with a clean house. Sunday will hopefully be spent resting and eating Easter candy, and Monday will be spent celebrating the fact that I survived another year on this planet. I’m hoping this involves both lunch and shopping with my mom and a date night that includes sushi and sake.
Word of the Week: “Surrender” — I’m still working on not needing to be in complete control of my life, but letting go and trusting in God’s plan instead of trying to wrestle my life into submission to my own ideas of what it should look like. I’ve come a long way in this regard, but sometimes I still need a reminder to just relax and trust.
Verse of the Week: Acts 17:28 – “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” A reminder that the only identity that truly matters is my identity in Christ.
How about you, dear reader? What’s on your slate for this week, and was your weekend restful or eventful? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Yesterday, I opened up my laptop to be greeted with the news that a family member of a family member lost her battle with melanoma. As a writer, words are usually my strong suit, but in this instance I’m kind of at a loss. There’s really nothing you can say that feels adequate. “Cancer sucks” only scratches the surface.
I knew this brave lady from kids’ birthday parties, but I’m sad and ashamed to say that I never got to know her well because I was always too shy to have a real conversation with her. The last time I saw her was in November at my great niece’s third birthday, where she was anxiously awaiting the results of a liver biopsy. She asked my mother to pray with her, and they stepped aside to pray while the cake was being served. Not long after, she and her husband excused themselves to leave, and on the way out the door she stopped and patted me on the shoulder. I was extremely touched that she felt enough familial warmth toward me to do that, despite my quiet tendencies, and I resolved to make more of an effort to talk to her at the next birthday party.
Except there won’t be any more birthday parties, at least not with her in attendance. She received her test results, and her diagnosis, later that week. Now, just five months later, she’s gone.
Our hearts and prayers go out to her husband and kids. As much as it pained me to watch from a distance as things took a bad turn, I can only imagine how hard all of this is, and has been, and will continue to be for them. If you’re the praying type, please remember the Rohde family as they go through this.
As if that wasn’t enough to ruin a day, yesterday evening we got hit with a tornadic thunderstorm. Once the tornado sirens started blasting, I shoved the cats (and the turtle) in a pet carrier and placed them in a central hallway, then held Pete, ready to dash for cover as I kept one eye on the TV weather coverage and another on the skies.
In true Okie fashion (which is funny considering how much of his formative years he spent in California), Matt kept going outside to see if he could see anything. Thankfully, the rain arrived and forced him back inside mere minutes before a gust of wind blew the tops of a couple of dead trees down into the yard right where he’d been standing.
Other than the tree parts scattered all over our back yard, we didn’t sustain any damage, thank goodness. Sand Springs, a suburb to the northwest of us, was hit the hardest, and the funnel cloud stayed about a mile north of us as it moved through Tulsa.
Last year, Oklahoma mostly got a break from the really scary storms, like after that awful spring of 2013 nature said, “Okay, Oklahoma, I’mma lay off you guys for a while.” But I guess we’re back on the hit list. I really hope last night wasn’t just a sneak preview of how the rest of this season’s going to go.
Local folks, how badly were you hit? Did you take cover when you heard the sirens, or head outside like my husband?
First things first: This week I’m (re)launching the new Daydreamer Publishing website, where I’m offering all of my editing, book formatting and other self-publishing services (all of the editing services links here now point there). I’m also planning to launch an instructional blog over there dedicated to writing and publishing topics.
“But Jeanie, what about that whole thing about you having multiple blog personality disorder and needing to simplify and streamline and have everything in one place?”
That’s actually a great question. I thought (and prayed) long and hard before putting this new website up, and I concluded that, if I want editing and helping and instructing indie authors to become my primary day job (at least until those darn book sales start paying all the bills), then I need to have a professional web space for that stuff, and a single page on this here blog wasn’t cutting it.
Also, the main purpose of this blog is to let readers get to know me as a human being and grow my community. If I turn this into a writing and publishing blog, then all who will show up here is other writers, and while I love my writer friends (and love it when y’all chime in), they’re not my target audience over here.
So anyway, putting that site together was pretty much how I spent my weekend.
Onward to this week’s bullet journal…
Word of the week: “Patience” – I keep feeling like I’m on the verge of some kind of breakthrough. I’m not sure what that is or what it will look like, but this is to remind myself not to try and force it, but to relax and trust that God is working stuff out behind the scenes, and it’ll happen on His timetable.
Verse of the week: James 1:4 (NKJV) – “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
I finished the big book edit on Friday, so this week is mainly about catching up on all the stuff I neglected in order to meet that deadline. I also need to start exercising regularly (last week’s attempt was a bust). I had planned to walk at least a mile this morning, but instead I ended up having to get dressed and run to Super Target to buy a new toilet seat, because ours decided to break late last night for no apparent reason whatsoever. At least this time we sprang for a padded one. Oh the luxury!
We went all over the store so Matt could price a bunch of stuff while we were there, so that was some exercise, at least. Except we also picked up a box of Sarah Lee donuts that was on sale, and I caved in and ate one when we got home, in violation of my “no gluten on weekdays” rule. So basically both my fitness and diet goals for the week were a bust before I even made it to lunch. Eh, I can start over tomorrow, I guess.
In all fairness, I vacuumed the house before I ate the donut, so you can’t say I didn’t earn it.
Anyway, here’s what my bullet list for the week looks like:
2 client critiques
Fiverr edit (a quick ESL polishing job on a short piece)
Go over Matt’s edits on another book edit and deliver that to the client
Sit my butt down and outline Ghost of a Chance
Invoice another client for a post-Easter-weekend ghost blog post
30 min. walk at least three times this week
At least two posts for this blog
Launch my Publishing School blog
Start a Daydreamer Publishing mailing list and create a free gift for signing up
Trim my hair and henna my roots
A couple of other time-intensive tasks that are too personal to mention here
So that’s going to be a pretty full week. I guess I’d better get started.
I’m still racing deadlines this week, so posting here is probably going to be sporadic, if it gets done at all. My only real goal this week is to finish this client’s book copy edit, and to make good headway on a couple of manuscript critiques. I also need to get on the stick and take care of some financial paperwork I keep putting off.
I’m also trying this week to get back into the habit of walking at least three days a week. Although, looking at the weather forecast, it looks like we’ve got some more rain and a few more chilly days on the way, so this might not’ve been the best week to start. At any rate, today the weather is gorgeous and I kicked it off with a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood this morning, so at least that’s a start.
Word of the Week: Focus. Because deadlines.
Verse of the Week: Joshua 1:9 (emphasis mine) – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
What about you guys? Anything big on your agenda this week? Tell us about your goals in the comments!
I woke up this morning to a bit of a kerfuffle in the writing world. The short version is that a well-known male YA author gave an honest answer to an interview question about why he sucks so bad at writing female characters that could possibly be taken as a sexist answer, maybe, if you tilt your head just so and squint really hard at it while wearing sexism-colored glasses.
And it just so happened that a female YA writer read the article while tilting her head just so and squinting really hard through her sexism-colored glasses, and then went on her Tumblr blog and ripped the guy a new one for his sexist (according to her) attitudes and called upon women and feminists everywhere to join her in a campaign of public shaming.
As a result, some of her followers did just that, although she also received quite a bit of backlash from people asking her to please stop making feminists look crazy-pants and distracting people from the real issue, which is why so many male authors in our society are so terrified of even attempting to write women.
Or I could just distill it all down to this: women are people, dude. Just focus on writing a well-rounded, complex person, and don’t let the fact that that person is attached to a pair of boobies throw you.
I should not be blogging right now. I should be editing my client’s book. But my client’s book (and all the edits I’ve done on it so far) live on Google Docs, which for the last couple of days has refused to let me access it. After sitting here fighting with it for literally the last two hours, I’ve managed to get it to let me download a copy (which will hopefully have all my edits and editing notes saved), and right now I’m downloading Apache OpenOffice, which I will attempt to install and run. I’m not actually sure this computer has enough available RAM to run it, which is why I didn’t just do that in the first place. At any rate, hopefully it will run and all of my edits and notes from GD will carry over and I can get back to work. Otherwise, all of my current freelance work will be stuck on hold until Google Docs gets its act together, which is not really an option, because deadlines.
And that’s just part of the utter ridiculousness of this day, which started out with yet more plumbing issues, because this house has the crappiest pipes (no pun intended) of any house I’ve ever inhabited. So instead of walking around the neighborhood for a nice, invigorating and calming session of exercise and prayer like I’d planned, I ended up instead walking all over Home Depot with Matt looking for a toilet auger (after I hiked all the way to the back to use their restroom because ours was unusable).
Thankfully, the auger did the trick, so at least we can use our bathroom now. But it’s now almost 3:30 PM and I haven’t actually accomplished anything useful. Which might not be so bad if I wasn’t already looking at a hectic week and an overflowing work load.
And oh, good! The bulb on my bedside lamp just burned out, and I’m not sure we have any light bulbs in stock. It just gets better and better.
Here at last is some (tentative) good news, though — OpenOffice started up just fine and the book file has all of my changes and notes. I’m hesitant to officially declare it as good news because it remains to be seen whether it will let me do my work without crashing. I really need to step away from this infuriating devil-machine for a little while before I find that out.
“But what about your goals for this week?” you might be asking. This week, my goals are simple, as there is really only one goal: to get through this week with my sanity and peace intact. So far, today I’ve already bungled that goal. Hopefully the rest of the week will be better.
By the way, this may be the only blog post I end up having time for this week. We’ll just have to play it by ear.
How about you, dear reader? Any big stuff to accomplish this week? Anything going on where you could use some cheering on? PLEASE tell me your Monday is going better than mine. If not, let it all out in the comments, where I promise virtual hugs and pats on the back and there, there’s.
Tuesday was awesomely productive. I had a long To Do list, and I did every dang bit of it. It’s also the only day this week I managed to get any writing done on the novel, but I did over 1,100 words, which is about as much as I’ve been managing each week, so that’s fine. Anyway, here’s the breakdown:
30 minutes a day writing GHOST
Nope. See above.
Vaccuum the house
*I did some laundry — two loads on Awesomely Productive Tuesday — but then winter returned with a vengeance, and since the washer and dryer are out in the garage where it’s freezing, I decided to save the rest for warmer weather. I should get the remaining loads done over the weekend.
Finish the Fiverr critique
Edit 1/4th of one of my clients’ book projects*
*I’m four pages behind where I’d hoped to end up today, but I have a good excuse for that. See below.
Stretch and move daily
Ha ha! No.
And these were the pebbles:
2 or 3 blog posts
Re-enroll Dominion of the Damned and Midnight Snacks in KDP select
15 minutes a day reading Story by Robert McKee
Tea & Creativity sessions
All of the time that would’ve gone to this ended up getting spent watching Chess the Musical in Concert on YouTube. I regret nothing.
At any rate, clearly I’m having an easier time fitting in the pebbles than I am certain “big rocks.” So I’m going to have to re-evaluate how I’m managing my time.
This weekend, in addition to doing laundry, we also still have to do our Aldi shopping. We normally go on Thursday mornings, but this week we were snowed in. We tried to get it done this morning, but when we got in the car we were greeted with a dead battery. My nephew was kind enough to drive all the way into town to see if there were any other problems and give Matt a lift to Autozone to get a replacement (thankfully, it was still under warranty, so they replaced it for free). Meanwhile, I spent the morning doing emergency-company cleaning, and then I babysat my great niece and nephew while the menfolk worked on the car. And that is my excuse for being behind schedule on my client edits.
I’m also hoping to find some time (and mental energy) this weekend to do some Deep Thinking about my novel. I feel like I’m close to a breakthrough in figuring out what it’s really all about, and I need to do a proper outline and sort out the character arcs, but it’s been difficult to find time where I can just sit and think about it like I need to.
How did your week go, dear reader? Any big plans (or things you hope to accomplish) over the weekend? I’d love to hear about it — even if those plans involve your DVR or Netflix.
Take it from Into the Woods – getting what you want isn’t a guaranteed recipe for happiness.
I haven’t seen the recent film adaptation of Into the Woods, but I’ve seen a couple of iterations of the stage version and mainlined the Original Broadway Cast recording enough times during the heyday of my Broadway geekdom to be familiar with the story’s themes. It’s easy to sum the story’s message up as, “Be careful what you wish for,” but I think it goes a little deeper than that. In this, the real world, where wishes aren’t magically granted after undergoing a quest through the dark and dangerous woods, a more relatable but no less true message is this: don’t pin your happiness on accomplishing your dreams.
I’m currently living one of my dreams. I’ve actually realized a few dreams in the last seven years or so. Back when I had a steady, safe job as a cubicle jockey, I dreamed of being a freelancer, and all of the apparent freedom that went with that. Freedom to set my own schedule, to write when I feel like writing, to decide who to work for and which jobs to take on, to not put on pants or makeup unless I just felt like it. It all seemed so awesome.
And then I got laid off during the lowest point of the Great Recession when there were no jobs to be had, and I turned to freelancing out of sheer desperation and survival (note: these are not ideal circumstances under which to begin a freelancing career. I really don’t recommend it if you can avoid it). And yes, I won’t lie: certain aspects of freelancing ARE awesome, like the aforementioned flexibility, and that whole pants and makeup thing.
But freelancing — especially doing it without a safety net — was fraught with its own set of problems, and it turned out to be very, very hard work, with long hours, and no benefits or job security.
Initially, I had dreamed of being a freelance editor. I had even started taking editing classes through Mediabistro right before I got hit with the layoff. I finished up the classes post-layoff, but I couldn’t get anyone to hire me as an editor. At the time, the only ones hiring freelance editors were mainly newspapers, magazines and websites, but thanks to budget cutbacks, they were turning more and more to having their writers edit their own work.
So instead I set myself up as a virtual assistant. I offered copy editing as part of my service package, and a few people took me up on it, but I also offered my HTML/CSS skills and that proved to be way more popular. It was also something I could charge more for, so after a while I moved the focus of my business to web design and development, even though that’s not something I ever really enjoyed doing as more than a hobby.
Still, business was good for a while, and I was living out my freelancing dream, so I tried not to complain. And then the web design business went belly-up and I went months–long, scary, stressful months–without being able to find work of any kind. I found a lifeboat in content mills, but I’ll tell you bluntly, writing for content mills sucks. It sucks your energy, it sucks your spirit, it sucks you in like quicksand and doesn’t want to let go. I don’t recommend that either.
Sometime in the midst of all of that I’d managed to realize another dream — to become a published author. I caved in and turned to self-publishing to make it happen, which at the time felt a little like cheating, but I no longer feel that way. It feels great to have my books out there, and I have no regrets about how I went about it. Another dream realized — and when dreams get realized, they become reality, and reality continues to be difficult. Self-publishing is a lot of hard work. There are a lot of ups and downs. It’s worth it, but it’s far from the easy path, if there is such a thing.
And now I’m finding that my initial dream of being a freelance editor is coming true. I took a very meandering path to get here, and I’m very happy and grateful to have finally arrived. But it’s not all lounging in my PJs and reading all day. It is, again, a lot of hard work, and fraught with its own set of problems and difficulties.
You may see a pattern beginning to emerge here.
Ultimately, my big dream is to make a full-time living from writing and publishing my own novels — to have them sell well enough that I don’t need to have any kind of “day job,” freelance or otherwise. I like to daydream about it and in my daydreams I have all this free time on my hands. I only need to work a couple of hours a day to make my word count, after which I can be free to play around online and have a clean and orderly house and craft and read and watch TV and basically spend the rest of the day doing whatever the heck I feel like doing.
Of course I know that in reality, writing and producing quality books takes a lot of time and hard work. Selling books takes even more time and hard work. Once I’m making a living as a novelist, if that day ever comes, my days probably won’t look that much different than they do now. I’ll still be sitting here in my pajama pants, trying to balance my laptop precariously on a lap filled with furbabies, still wishing my house could be cleaner and fighting the temptation to watch last night’s episode of whatever and forcing myself to get work done, it’ll just be a slightly different type of work. But it will be work, and it will be fraught with its own set of problems and difficulties.
I’ve come to realize over the years that life is a lot more akin to a video game than to a storybook: reaching a goal or realizing a dream doesn’t mean achieving happily ever after. Rather, it means you level up to a whole new set of challenges.
Does that mean dreams aren’t worth pursuing? Of course not. As much as I fantasize about getting to take it easy, I subscribe to the notion that most things that are worth doing are hard. This looks kind of insane on paper, but I think most people are this flavor of insane. Things that require hard work are usually more rewarding than things that are easy.
I mean, sure, a Saturday afternoon spent lying on the couch mainlining your favorite show on Netflix is a reward unto itself. But after a whole week of that? Chances are, you’re going to start to feel like you’re wasting your life.
On the other hand, after a week of putting in hard work in the pursuit of something worthwhile, you’ll feel perfectly justified in spending that afternoon being a couch potato. You’ve earned a break, and knowing that lets you relax and enjoy it. Not so crazy after all.
I really think that even if your day-to-day life looked like a Corona commercial, you’d still have problems: sand in your shorts, having to worry about sunburn, plus eventually just sitting there sipping beer and staring out at the ocean is bound to get boring and you’re going to want to go somewhere and do something that involves having to put up with people and traffic and all of life’s little frustrations.
Problems and hardship are a constant part of life. Achieving your dreams won’t deliver you from having to deal with hard stuff. There will always be a new set of challenges and things to complain about. Which is why it’s a really bad idea to look to your dreams to make you happy. Contentment is a daily state of mind, and there’s joy to be found in the pursuit.
All of which is to remind myself to be grateful and enjoy finally being a freelance editor, and try not to complain too much about the new challenges it brings, or spend too much time daydreaming about being a full-time novelist, but to do what I need to to achieve that dream, too.
What do you think, dear reader? Do you agree or disagree? What dreams are you chasing, and how do you expect your life to change when you catch them? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
I’m adding a few new elements to my bullet journal this week. One of those elements is a weekly To Do list, because the monthly list alone isn’t cutting it. The weekly list is going in the far-left column of my weekly 2-page spread, the rest of which will be taken up by daily lists.
I’m trying to keep this week’s list simple. I have a lot of editing to get through, and that’s going to have to be my main focus. But I also can’t neglect my writing, and I really need to vacuum and do some laundry this week. So these are the big rocks that will take up most of my time jar:
30 minutes a day writing GHOST
Vaccuum the house
Finish the Fiverr critique
Edit 1/4th of one of my clients’ book projects
Stretch and move daily
And these are the pebbles:
2 or 3 blog posts
Re-enroll Dominion of the Damned and Midnight Snacks in KDP select
15 minutes a day reading Story by Robert McKee
Tea & Creativity sessions
I also added a Word of the Week and a Verse of the Week at the top of the spread. The WotW is a reminder of what I want to stay focused on throughout the week–sort of a weekly theme to guide everything.
This week’s word is “Health.” I have NOT been making good choices lately and I’m feeling the results of it. With so much on my plate, I’ve really got no choice but to take better care of myself, which includes eating right and getting exercise so I’ll have more energy and be able to think more clearly. This might mean I have to get my husband to hide all of the breakfast pastries we’ve been stocking up on lately because winter makes us lose all good sense when it comes to food. I might also have to hide all that instant Pho from myself, because while that stuff might be gluten-free, it’s definitely not low glycemic. At any rate, this is why “stretching and moving” is designated as a big rock this week.
The verse of the week is Ephesians 6:7 (NASB): “With good will render service as to the Lord, and not to men.” This is to remind me to be thankful for the work I have and to maintain a good attitude about it while doing the best job I possibly can for my clients. This is something I try to apply all the time, but when my plate begins to overflow and I start to get overwhelmed and stressed, it’s good to have a reminder.
So that’s the general shape of my week to come, God willing. What about you guys? Any big projects hanging over your head and making you twitchy? I’d love to hear about your goals and plans for this week, both big and small. Share them in the comments!